In the aftermath of a 15-match winless streak, crowned by being booted out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, Banyana Banyana hope to turn the corner in the friendly against Japan.
Banyana fly out on today to Japan, where coach Desiree Ellis hopes the team will redeem itself against the hosts next Sunday.
Showing her confidence in her tried and tested players, Ellis has kept the bulk of the squad that was eliminated by Botswana in the second round of the Olympic qualifiers in September.
Banyana last tasted victory at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana last year when they beat Mali 2-0 in the semi-final but lost to Nigeria in the final, so they will be eager to get back to their winning ways.
The only new face in the squad is Lelona Daweti, who plays for Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies, while Thembi Kgatlana, Linda Motlhalo, Nomvula Kgoale, Jessica Williams and Ongeziwe Ndlangisa have also been called up.
Daweti has caps in the national under-17 and under-20 national teams.
Although Ellis is content with the players she has at her disposal, it was a cause for concern for her that captain Janine van Wyk was out injured, while Bongeka Gamede, Karabo Dhlamini, Amanda Mthandi and Sibulele Holweni are busy with exams.
“We can’t be seen to be tampering with the players’s education. We encourage them to get their qualifications to become better persons in life,” she said.
Regarding their opponents, Ellis said: “This is our chance to show our potential and character after the disappointment we suffered against Botswana.
It’s a big test for us as it comes on the back of a loss in the Olympic qualifiers.” Japan is ranked 10th in the world while Banyana are a distant 55 in the Fifa rankings.
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Jessica Williams.
Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Bambanani Mbane, Nothando Vilakazi, Tiisetso Makhubela, Noko Matlou, Ongeziwe Ndlangisa.
Midfielders: Leandra Smeda, Mamello Makhabane, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Refiloe Jane, Kholosa Biyana, Linda Motlhalo, Robyn Moodaly, Noxolo Cesane, Nomvula Kgoale.
Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Rhoda Mulaudzi,
By Xolile Mtshazo